Ecumen Receives $3 Million Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Grant to Create a Model for Improving Rural Senior Living

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The goal: Improve aging services access for rural seniors by developing replicable model that maximizes existing community infrastructure, integrates technology, and combines services in one location.

“Society has long looked at aging as a challenge. We believe growing older represents one of our country's great innovation opportunities, especially in rural America."

Kathryn Roberts, president and CEO, Ecumen

Ecumen, a non-profit that provides senior housing and services across Minnesota and nationally, announced today it has received a $3 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

The grant will help transform a longstanding nursing home at Ecumen Detroit Lakes into a one-stop aging services hub that improves and expands service access for seniors in rural Becker County, Minnesota. The goal is to develop a replicable model that maximizes existing community infrastructure, integrates technology, and combines services in one location to help seniors remain healthfully independent in rural America.

Rural America Larger Than Most Nations

If rural America were a country, its population of 50 million would be larger than nearly all of the world’s nations. Rural America’s fastest growing population cohort is people 65-plus. Seniors make up 15 percent of the country’s rural populace, with the proportion of seniors greater in rural areas than metropolitan areas. Overall, rural residents have proportionately more chronic conditions than their urban counterparts, but obtaining services that can help a person remain independent can be difficult in rural areas, especially for seniors, many of whom live alone.

“We are honored by this opportunity to carry out Margaret A. Cargill’s philanthropic vision, especially as it relates to transforming aging services and serving unmet needs,” said Kathryn Roberts, president and CEO of Ecumen. “Our goal is to help keep people healthier and out of the nursing home and hospital. This initiative will take a whole-person approach and create a community hub that helps integrate technology, socialization, fitness, nutrition and health care. Society has long looked at aging as a challenge. We believe growing older represents one of our country’s great innovation opportunities.”

Ecumen has commenced design work on the new center on the Ecumen Detroit Lakes campus, which includes a mix of housing and services for seniors. Construction is anticipated to begin in the Spring and conclude in 2014. Components will include:

  •     A telehealth center for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to conduct patient consultations
  •     Thirty private rehabilitation suites for short-term stays, so area residents can rehabilitate after illness or surgery and then return home
  •     A warm-water pool for exercise classes and physical therapy.
  •     State-of-the art occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy areas
  •     A fitness center with anaerobic and aerobic equipment, which can accommodate all strength levels
  •     A labyrinth area for meditation, prayer and reflection
  •     An internet café, library and classrooms for health workshops, classes and other social and educational opportunities
  •     A salon
  •     A dining area for up to 40 people

In most rural areas this mix of services doesn’t exist or is geographically scattered. A hub approach opens the door to making other community resources more accessible. For example, it can provide area physicians a partner in physical therapy, and care and patient health monitoring to better coordinate health information; transportation approaches can be focused on a single destination; and it can help better define and coordinate acute care and non-acute care services in the larger community.

Ecumen (http://www.ecumen.org), which is based in Shoreview, Minn., is the most innovative leader of senior housing and services, empowering people to live better, easier and more fun lives. Its mission is to create home for older adults wherever they choose to live. Ecumen envisions a world in which aging is viewed and understood in radically different ways. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has identified Ecumen as one of Minnesota’s “Best Places to Work”, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune named Ecumen as one of Minnesota’s “Top 100 Workplaces”.

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Eric Schubert
Ecumen
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